My partner Zagreus has written a companion post to this one, that I feel helps give a more whole, unified picture of the Birch Goddess when read in addition to my own. You can read his beautiful post here.
In the midst of a total emotional breakdown in the late summer, early fall months of 2011, a woman came to me and claimed me as hers. She did not give me her name, and never has, but at the time she seemed fond of the temporary title I called her: Universe Personified. It was in a moment of total surrender to everything that she came to take everything from me, and it was one of the most absolutely terrifying experiences I have ever had. She stole my emotions from me and gave me numbness; she stole my freedom and trapped me; and for a while, it seemed as if she had stolen me entirely and overridden Zagreus’ claims to me.
But, instead of stealing me from him, she claimed him, too. We found out later that she is Our Mother, the currently unnamed goddess, through whom my brother Zagreus and I were born.
She had first appeared to me, bathed in golden light that obscured her face, in a grove of trees that I did not recognize: white bark with black marks, whose gold-dipped fall foliage seemed to sing in the breeze. I had never heard of birch trees before, growing up in a place where they do not thrive, and thought I was making them up. But she felt so strongly associated with those trees, I have since called her the Birch Goddess.
For the first year, our interactions were very rocky. She wanted me to die for her, and while I had done the death and rebirth thing before, her technique was very difficult: cold, and distant, and hard. She showed no feelings, no understanding. How I felt did not matter, what mattered is she got what she was after from me. Interacting with her was a great source of hurt, and feeling lost.
Things have since gotten a bit better. I still do not know her name, although there are a handful of deities I think are possibilities, or that she was a kind of proto being for. She still does not seem to understand me and is still pushy and tactless, and still seems to have a habit for dismemberment and cannibalism, but so do some of the other deities I work with. I have seen her face, now, and it is cold and stern and like stone, but there are times flickers of emotion play across her features, times when her touch feels warm and even gentle. She still most of the time prefers to veil her face in some fashion, and sometimes it seems like her stoic expression when her face is unveiled, is still some level of a mask.
She is November. The crisp breeze. The sun that casts gold, but whose touch lacks eternal warmth. The passing from one season to the next, the captured crystal of the moment when fading autumn yields to death. The frostbitten mornings that surge forth into flame in the light of day, only to return to ice once more. The inevitability of life, a secret stowed safely away deep within the hardening ground, when it seems all is lost.
She is amber, the color of crystallized honey. The dusty, warm scent of fallen leaves, laced with ambergris and kissed with loam and dew. The holding of breath when one is awestruck. The water droplets found in dry earth, and the particles of soil inexplicably floating through the air. The loosening of self, the fading of sanity, and yet the only ledge you have to stand on when surrounded by the abyss. The meeting place of everything, but the complete home of none. She is liminal, but she is so straightforward that metaphor is completely lost on her.
She is the currently-unnamed, beautiful and terrible mother.